Short weeks somehow always seem longer than our regular weeks at school, something I never understood. This week is only 4 days and today is technically Thursday but really like a Friday since we are off tomorrow. In any case, it has felt loooong. Thankfully we have spring vacation in 2 weeks, because I feel like I am dragging myself towards it. It also is the time of year when some students start to act out more, and the drama level gets higher (which is pretty high already in middle school).
Let me describe our school to you in the last week or so.
The fact that it's been cold until now, and we still have snow on the ground, you'd think would help keep our students' hormones at bay. But, no. Spring fever is here anyway. Just in my class, I discovered yesterday that my Chinese student and my Austrian student have a crush on the Korean boy. The Korean boy is oblivious, apparently. The new Dominican boy likes the Austrian girl. The Puerto Rican and Cambodian girls have uncontrollable giggles observing this all.
In the school in general, there is more giggling and girls prancing in the halls, and boys posturing and flipping their hair. The 8th graders are beginning to push back more in their subconscious attempt to break away from their middle school teachers as they get ready for high school. As the weather warms up a little, students will push boundaries of rules more, like dress code, cell phone policy, etc. The 7th graders are beginning to feel older and "wiser" as the incoming 7th graders prepare to come visit.
The adults are getting worn down. However, my colleagues are so awesome that instead of getting unkind or snippy with one another, we are just getting more jokey with one another, and the snarky jokes are starting to come out more. Yesterday for April Fool's Day one teacher taped a paper to the copy machines that said "Now voice-activated!" That same teacher brought a selfie stick to his class, instantly earning some teen cred with his students. Another teacher has posted fun "Faculty activity" posters in the faculty lounge, which consist of naming all the states and their capitals, remembering lists of things like the 7 deadly sins, the 7 dwarves, the Harry Potter book titles, and so on. And there is a doodle page, and magnetic poetry on the fridge (which I brought in last year). Keeping it fun in the midst of talk about data, school cameras, and the blaming and disempowering of teachers.
In my own personal case, my 14 year-old has apparently learned everything he needs to, and is now able to teach me things, because he knows it ALL. And has way more experience than me in EVERYthing. And is ALWAYS right, about everything. Aren't I lucky? For example, yesterday he declared that sexism no longer exists in this country, only in others. As a women's college graduate, you can bet we had a very "lively" conversation after that comment.
MCAS and April Fool's Day added interesting dimensions to the short week. On the 2 MCAS days, I had the ELL students who do not take the ELA test because they have been here less than a year. They were completely befuddled by the strange way things happen during MCAS: monitoring kids outside of the bathroom, the atmosphere of seriousness that descends on the school.
Yesterday one of my students played an April Fool's joke on me (thankfully, only one, and it didn't involve cockroaches. Phew!). She had hear head down and was crying in class - real crying, with real tears and tissues. Of course, I got worried; I went to find her guidance counselor, I called the other ELL teacher, I sat next to the student and patted her on the back, tried to coax her into talking to me. Nothing seemed to work.
Later, I found out when she came back for my other class with her, as she walked in with a huge smile on her face and in a much better mood, that it was all a joke. I started the class with a lesson on the origin of April Fool's Day - which I had already planned - and took the opportunity to explain that often April Foll's jokes are short, funny, and don't make people worried or upset :-) We all laughed about it, and somehow, being the same student who asked me what the middle finger means, I wasn't all that surprised that she did this.
This morning I opened my classroom door to look out in the hallway and saw not one, not two - but FOUR administrators investigating a strange smell in the hallway. They were literally sniffing lockers, one by one, and looking very worried and serious, walkie talkies clinging to their belts. I hope it's not what they thought it might be, but instead a rotten salad or funky-smelling socks or something harmless. Just another day at middle school.